WEEKS 41-42 : 08.10.-21.10.2006
30.09 – 06.10.06, Official visit
A delegation from PARLACEN, the Central American parliament, visited the SADR by invitation from the Saharawi parliament. The delegation was composed of the President of Parlacen, Julio Palacios (Panama), vice-presidents Nelson Licona (Honduras) and Julio Cesar Grijalva (Salvador), and member Miguel Oviedo (Dominican Republic). In a statement, the delegation expressed its total support to the Saharawi cause and the SADR. [SPS]
08.10.06 Family visits
The coordinator with MINURSO, Mhamed Khadad, denounced the “blockage, by Morocco, of the exchange visits between Saharawi families”. He said that the recommencement of visits was planned for the beginning of October, after the Polisario had accepted all the conditions of the programme that was submitted to it by the UNHCR in July, August and finally September 2005. [SPS]
12.10.06 Consultative council
At the end of its 5th session, the Saharawi Consultative Council appealed in a letter to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to accelerate the organisation of the referendum of self-determination, to protect the Saharawis against Moroccan repression in the occupied territories, and to put an end to the politicisation of humanitarian aid. In a letter to the European Parliament, it asked that the Parliament make cooperation with Morocco conditional on the respect of human rights in Western Sahara, and that it act to put an end to the pillage of Saharawi natural resources. Finally, it addressed the King of Spain, to bring to his attention Spain’s responsibility in the decolonisation of Western Sahara and the protection of Saharawis from Moroccan repression.
The Council, created in 2001, is composed of all the tribal chiefs who were involved in the identification of Saharawi voters in the referendum. [SPS]
13.10.06 South Africa
Questioned in an article dedicated to the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published in the weekly edition of the Mail and Guardian, Oubi Bouchraya, Saharawi Ambassador to South Africa, declared that “the mandate of MINURSO must be broadened to include the protection of human rights in Western Sahara”.
15.10.06 Judicial system
On the opening of the judicial year, Hammada Selma, SADR Minister for Justice, presented the activities of the previous year to Mohamed Bouzeid, president of the Consultative Council, and several magistrates, lawyers and civil servants working in the SADR judicial system. [SPS]
TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
Demonstrations by young Saharawis continue. Those arrested are discovering in the police stations other Saharawis apprehended earlier of whom there had been no news. It was thus that on the 7th October, 10 Saharawis taken in for questioning in El Ayound found Abdesamad Boishiri at the police station, who had been illegally detained for several days. The repression very often hits the same people repeatedly: Andour Lhoucine was arrested on the 9th October for the sixth time since his release from prison last April. The questionings have taken particularly revolting forms. Thus three young Saharawis, taken from the street by undercover police, were taken, handcuffed together, on the 9th October away from El Ayoun to be stripped and tortured in a sadistic fashion. They were not released until 48 hours later.
On the 31st anniversary of the proclamation of Saharawi national unity, the 12th October, 1975, many independence demonstrations by young Saharawis took place in the occupied towns, despite a heavy police deployment (in particular around the schools). Graffiti was written on walls and SADR flags flown.
The forces of repression took action in El Ayoun and above all in Smara, where 17 people were injured and 8 arrested, among them 2 Saharawi soldiers from the Auxiliary Forces. Eight houses were devastated. In El Ayoun, 7 people were arrested. Armed police laid siege to and ransacked the house of the Ameydane family, arriving in 30-odd vehicles from divers police forces to arrest El-Wali Ameydane, a former political prisoner. Other arrests were reported on 12th October: in Tan Tan, the activist Waban Souleiman, accused of being the instigator of demonstrations in that town and the former political prisoner Banga Cheikh; in Dakhla, the former political prisoner and president of the ASVDH (Boujdour) Mohammed Tahlil , released then arrested again on 19.10.06.
The ransacking of apartments continued on 13th October in El Ayoun, three were devastated and the heads of the respective families arrested. For the first time, a demonstration in Tata, southern Morocco, was reported. In Dakhla, a young Saharawi, Hay Alal, was attacked and injured by a Moroccan colonist armed with a bayonet.
Following the events in Smara, new demonstrations took place on the 15th and 16th October, driving the authorities to look at new repressive measures. Three people were arrested in Tan Tan on the 15th October. On the 18th, Daha Rahmouni and Lismaaili, members of the ASVDH office, were questioned in El Ayound. [more information on ASVDH, blog Sahara Libre, As Umdraiga].
Following the publication of the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) noted an increase in the level of repression. It appealed for the broadening of the mandate of MINURSO to include human rights, the nomination of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara, the constitution of an international commission of enquiry and the putting into practice of the Baker Plan for the Self-Determination of the People of Western Sahara. [Appeal]
13.10.06 El Ayoun
Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai suspended their hunger strike, launched on the 4th September, on request from their families and also appeals from local and international human rights organisations.
15.10.06 El Ayoun
El-Wali Ameydane and Banga Cheikh , feet and hands tied, were presented to the judge after having been interrogated for 72 hours in the Royal Gendarmerie HQ. The GUS (Urban Security Group) dispersed a demonstration by their families in front of the court.
16.10.06 Goulimine (Southern Morocco)
The Saharawi trade unionist Khadija Moutik came before the court, held in connection with demonstrations that took place in that town on 8th October in solidarity with Saharawi political prisoners. At the reading of the falsified accusations against him of “insults against servants of the State and the destruction of public goods”, the activist confirmed her participation in pro-independence demonstrations which flew Saharawi flags as symbols of rejection of occupation. But she denied having insulted any agents or committing acts of violence. She then took a Saharawi flag out from her clothing and proclaimed “Viva the Polisario Front, self-determination now!” [see a short video on RASD-TV]
08.10.06 the tragedy of clandestine immigration
24 young Saharawis drowned during an attempt to illegally emigrate to the Canary Islands, while 11 others were recovered by the Spanish authorities. The Saharawi government denounced these losses, taken in connection with the degradation of the situation in the territory under Moroccan control.
13.10.06 sabotage ?
According to the Moroccan daily Al-Ahdath Al-Maghribia, reprinted by El Pais, 20 metres of the conveyor belt transporting phosphates, between posts 7 and 8, was destroyed by an explosion in the night of 10-11 October. A Polisario Front flag was found nearby. [El Pais, 14.10.2006]
The Urban Security Groups (GUS) were dissolved, and their members distributed across the different services of the DGS (National Security services). [see BBC “Morocco disbands riot police”]
Aminatou Haidar in France
After having been received by the Saharawi community in Mantes-la-Jolie, Aminatou Haidar, invited to France by Amnesty International, held a press conference in Paris on 9th October. She bore witness to her personal tragedy, and regretted that “French civil society is not better informed on how the Moroccan authorities make a mockery of human rights in Western Sahara”. She said she had received “many anonymous messages” threatening to “physically liquidate her if she pursued her human rights defense work”.
On the 10th, she was received by the senator Robert Bret, despite the protests of several Moroccan associations. The daily L’Humanité published several articles on her testimony. Aminatou Haidar continued her campaign in Bagnolet on the 14th, and on the 15th October in Mans (a town twinned since 1982 with Haouza in the Saharawi refugee camps), and then in Limoges on the 17th. [video online] http://clsps.free.fr/aminattou.html
MINURSO decided, in line with the accord of February 1999 between the UN and Morocco, to only fly the UN flag at its headquarters. This measure produced a Moroccan riposte in El Ayoun, consisting of the erecting of 20-odd Moroccan flags in front of the entries into MINURSO premises. [MINURSO Press Release]
The Danish Under-secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ib Petersen, indicated that his country “supports and works for a peaceful solution, respecting the right of self-determination, in the framework of the UN”, during a meeting with the Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, Mhamed Khaddad, in Copenhagen. [SPS]
13.10.06 4th Commisison of the UN
The UN General Assembly Commission on Decolonisation adopted, by 76 votes for, 72 abstentions and no opposition, a resolution reaffirming the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. The proposed resolution (A/C.4/61/L.5) didn’t obtain a consensus and a vote was necessary, thus the text was identical to that accepted by consensus last year. [more]
The Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, was pleased with the adoption of the resolution.
The Norwegian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Raymond Johansen, declared that his country “is for the self-determination of the Saharawi people”, following an interview with the Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, Mhamed Khaddad. [SPS]
The French President Jacques Chirac, receiving the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs accompanied by five ministers, reminded Mohamed Benaissa that France supports a mutually acceptable political solution under the auspices of the UN, according to the Elysée Palace. The same delegation was received in Washington by Condoleeza Rice. Several Moroccan ministerial delegations were sent to the five permanent members of the Security Council and to certain non-permanent members. [Elysée news]
16.10.06 UN Secretary General’s Report S/2006/817
In his long report, Kofi Annan gave an account of the development of the situation over the last 6 months, and recalled four important facts: the Throne Speech of Mohamed VI on 29th July, where he put forward the autonomy project, the release of 48 prisoners including 38 Saharawi activists on 22nd April, the continuation of the "demonstrations by Saharans calling for respect for human rights and the right to self-determination" in the territory, and the signing of a Fisheries Accord between the EU and Morocco on the 26th July. Kofi Annan then enumerated the divers activities of MINURSO, announced that the family visits were to restart at the beginning of November, and mentioned that 12 illegal migrants remain in Bir Lahlou.
The activities of his Personal Envoy, Peter Van Walsum, are detailed over five pages. He contacted the interested parties, as well as the Algerian, Mauritanian, Spanish, American and French authorities. Morocco had recently informed him that the proposal for autonomy "would be presented in the coming months". The leaders of the Polisario Front let him know that "they would opt for the continuation of the impasse, realizing full well that this could only lead to renewed armed struggle". Some noted that it would be difficult for them to resist the pressure from frustrated young Saharawis who wanted to fight.
Noting that the positions of the parties had remained incompatible, Kofi Annan recommended once more "negociations without preconditions", while this time specifying that they will have "only one objective endorsed by the Security Council (...) that would providefor the self-determination..." He therefore appealed to the parties to renounce on the one hand, talking of independence, and on the other, of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.
Elsewhere, he took up the recommendation of the recent report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, recommending that "that alll possibe efforts be made to ensure respects for the human rights of the people of Western Sahara" and asking that the UN examine the best means to achieve this. Finally, he recommended the prolongation of the mandate of MINURSO until 30th April 2007. [UN News, 18.10.06] [afrol news, 18.10.06].
19.10.06 Reaction of the Polisario Front
Boukhari Ahmed, the representative of the Polisario Front to the UN, declared that the report "put the conflict in its real nature as a problem of decolonisation and clearly established limits to the illusions of Morocco to implicate the UN in its operation aiming to legitimise its colonial occupation of our country". Expressing the Polisario Front’s "satisfaction" with these observations of the Secretary General, Boukhari recalled that "only reliable, realist and just solution that profits of the support of the international community, is the organisation of a self-determination referendum". The Polisario Front, he recalled, believes that it is “it is "necessary now, not to resume negotiations, but to implement the signed accords". [SPS]
20.10.06 United Kingdom
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Kim Howells, affirmed that the UK would take an active role in Security Council debates about the Western Sahara conflict, confirming his position supporting a just settlement in the framework of the United Nations and guaranteeing the Saharawi people the right to self-determination. On the 24th October the British House of Commons organised, for the first time in its history, a plenary debate on Western Sahara. [SPS]
The Moroccan Autonomy Project
In an article taking account of the serious problems between the members of CORCAS and its president, Le Journal Hebdo reported that the development of the autonomy project was to be entrusted to the experts of REMALD (Moroccan Review of Local Administration and Development). The text was being finalised by Moroccan and foreign lawyers (Spanish and French). It would then be submitted to the King, before being presented to the international community. [Le Journal Hebdo No 273, 14-20.10.06] HUMAN RIGHTS
12.10.06 United Kingdom
The UK Foreign Office published its 9th Annual Report on Human Rights. The UK will continue to support the efforts of the Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan, and his Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Peter Van Walsum, with a view to achieving a settlement to the conflict in Western Sahara and permitting the self-determination of the Saharawi people. [FCO Human Rights Annual Report 2006 pp211-212]
100 young people from Tenerife worked for ten days in the refugee camps, in reconstruction, hospitals and schools.
The wali of El Ayoun (refugee camp), Omar Mansour, received the prize “Provincia Capitale e Provincia Solidale” from the hands of the president of the province of Rome, Emilio Gasbarra – dedicated to the Saharawi people for their legitimate struggle for liberty and independence. The Saharawi delegate was received then in Modena by the authorities of that province, linked by 10 years of friendship and cooperation with El Ayoun camp. [SPS]
Federació d'Associacions de Solidaritat amb el Poble Saharaui
del País Valencià ha recibido dos premios de parte de
reconocidas instituciones. El primero, de parte de la revista
SAÓ, de publicación en toda la zona de habla catalana y
que fue entregado día 20 de octubre. Entre otras , nos preceden
en la recepción de este premio organizaciones tan prestigiosas
como Intermón o Amistía Internacional. El segundo, lo
concede la Universitat Miguel Hernández d'Elx, en el marco de la
II Edición de Premios a Entidades sin ánimo de lucro y
cuya entrega será el próximo lunes 30 de Octubre a las
12hs en el Campus de dicha universidad en presencia de los Duques de
26 - 28.10.06:
Italia: La 2a edizione della Maratona per la Pace La Verna – Montenero
25 – 28 ottobre 2006 dedicata al Popolo Saharawi. Org.: Associazioni
Amici della 100 Km del Sahara e Cooperatori Paolini di Livorno. Infos:
27 and 28
October, in The Hague, The Netherlands. "International Law and the
Question of Western Sahara", a Conference organized by the Institute of
Social Studies and the International Platform of Jurists for East
Ayoun: first anniversary of the killing of Hamdi Lembarki by two
Moroccan police officers, who have still not been tried.
The 32th European Conference of support to the Saharawi people, EUCOCO 2006, will take place in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) on3, 4 et 5 novembre 2006. Informations: http://www.eucoco2006.org email: email@example.com
11.11.06, Madrid: Manifestacion de Atocha a la Pl. Mayor, Madrid (Plataforma civica proreferendum en el Sahara). Infos: firstname.lastname@example.org
Palma: L'Associació d'Amics del Poble Sahrauí de les Illes Balears i el
fotògraf Rif Spahni us conviden a la inauguració de
l'exposició TINDUF, PAISAJES DE UN EXILIO, el 17 de novembre a les
19.30 h, al Cercle de Belles Arts - Casal Balaguer (Unió, 3,
Palma). L'obra romandrà exposada fins al 5 de desembre de 2006. Infos.
campements de réfugiés de El-Ayoun, PRIMER FESTIVAL DE MUSICA Y
FOLCLORE VASCO: la Asociacion de ayuda al pueblo saharaui NUYUM de
Sopelana celebrara el primer festival de musica y folclore vasco en el
campamento del El Aaiun para el cual de desplazara la orquesta
sinfonica de Bilbao. NUYUM es una asociacion sin animo de lucro
inscrita en el registro del gobierno vasco y formada por jovenes
saharauis y vascos. Contacto e informacion: Omar Slama Nayem:
email@example.com - Eneko Calle Gracia: Sahara_anderdeuna@yahoo.es
Vuelos charter a los campamentos
Región de Murcia: Salida el sábado 2 de Diciembre, desde el aeropuerto de Alicante y regreso el 10 de Diciembre, por la noche.
Para más información llamar a los teléfonos 676978232 (sólo por la tarde) o al 660622130 (durante todo el día).
Catalunya: Primer vuelo: salida: el día 05 de diciembre a las 21:30, vuelta: el día 11 de diciembre a las 01:30. Segundo Vuelo: Salida día 05 de Diciembre a las 22:00, vuelta día 10 de diciembre a las 03:40. Delegación Saharaui en Catalunya <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Aminatou Haidar: L'invitée de la semaine ( L'Humanité, Paris )
Le Journal Hebdo No 273, 14-20.10.06, Dossier Sahara
Tel Quel No 243, 14-20.10.06, dossier Sahara
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages
>> English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages
- UN slams Saharawi abuse, Jean-Jacques Cornish, Mail & Guardian, SA, 13-19.10.06.
>> Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages
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